Bertrum Hunter

From BR Bullpen

Bertrum Hunter (Bert, Nate, Buffalo)

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 9", Weight 175 lb.
  • Born 1906?

Negro League curveball specialist Bertrum Hunter broke in to the Negro Leagues in 1931 at age 19 (according to John Holway) or around 25 (according to Larry Lester) with the St. Louis Stars. Hunter went 5-2 and his 3.00 RA ranked fifth in the Negro National League. Playing for the Detroit Wolves and Homestead Grays in 1932 (shuffled between the clubs, both owned by Cum Posey), Hunter dazzled at 18-4. He was second to Satchel Paige in the East-West League in victories, second to Lefty Williams in winning percentage and third in RA (3.06), trailing Harry Salmon and Paige. Holway lists him as the top pitcher in the league. Bertrum remained a Crawfords ace in 1933, going 14-4 (Paige was 7-9) and he also was 3-2 with an Akron-based team. Overall, his 17-5 record gave him the most wins in the NNL. He was second to Percy Miller in winning percentage and second to Paige in strikeouts. He appeared in the first East-West Game, allowing 2 runs in 2/3 of an inning of work.

In 1934, Hunter was 5-1 for Pittsburgh. The next year, he was fifth in the league with 29 strikeouts and had a 7-6 record. Sparring at times with Crawfords manager Oscar Charleston, Bertrum joined the Philadelphia Stars in 1935 and racked up a 7-3 record with 40 strikeouts (third-best in the loop). He lost a 7-2 exhibition game to Jack Knott and Vern Kennedy in which Rogers Hornsby hit a 3-run homer to lead the charge. Hunter finished his Negro League career at 59-25.

1937 took Bertrum to the Dominican Republic, where he struggled at 4-5. Marrying while there, Hunter settled in the Dominican and did not pitch in a major league for the next two seasons.

In 1940, Hunter re-emerged with the Dorados de Chihuahua, going 2-3 with a 5.40 ERA in Mexican League competition. The 1941 season led him to the Veracruz Eagle, where he was 9-11, 5.18, completing 11 starts. He allowed 308 baserunners in 184 innings. In '42, Bertrum was 8-13, 4.22 for the Puebla Parrots, followed by a 3-4, 4.63 year for three LMB clubs. Hunter was 0-1, 5.40 in one final outing for the 1944 Mexico City Red Devils. In five years in Mexico, Bertrum was only 22-32, 4.79. Overall, his professional track record was 85-62.

Sources: The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues by James Riley, The Complete Book of Baseball's Negro Leagues by John Holway, Black Baseball's National Showcase by Larry Lester and The Mexican League: Comprehensive Player Statistics by Pedro Treto Cisneros